INDIANAPOLIS – Erich Weiss started a quick Indianapolis Indians (13-11) homestand off with a bang on Thursday.
Trailing 2-1 and down to his last strike in the bottom of the ninth, Weiss doubled home two and handed the Tribe a thrilling 3-2 win over the new-look Gwinnett Stripers (9-16). Indy starting pitcher Casey Sadler added five shutout innings, helping the Indians win the opener of a four-game set at Victory Field.
Sadler, who surrendered a total of 14 runs (10 earned) in his first two starts of 2018, looked much better on Thursday. The right-hander gave up four hits and a walk in his five innings of work, blanking the Stripers with two strikeouts.
Indianapolis gave their starter a 1-0 lead with a run in the second, but Sadler would not end up with his first win of the year.
Gwinnett starter Kolby Allard was brilliant, giving up just one run on six hits and two walks in seven innings, and his offense gave him a lead in the sixth.
With Sadler back in the dugout, the Stripers jumped on new Indians pitcher A.J. Schugel. A hit by pitch and a single started the sixth and while Schugel got within an out of escaping, Gwinnett went in front. Tyler Smith singled home both runners, giving the Stripers the 2-1 edge with a clutch knock.
Indy’s bullpen held, but the Tribe’s bats just could not get over the hump.
They loaded the bases in the third, but could not score. Jordan Luplow tripled with one out in the sixth, but he was stranded on third base. Runners were on second and third with one gone in the seventh, but Weiss lined into a double play. Finally in the ninth, Weiss got another chance and the Indians broke through.
Stripers reliever Josh Ravin opened the bottom of the ninth by getting Kevin Kramer to pop out, but Jacob Stallings followed by reaching on an error. Ravin shook that off and punched out Jerrick Suiter, but Indianapolis was not done.
Pablo Reyes singled, keeping the frame alive. Now with the winning run on base, all eyes turned again to Weiss. Indy’s first baseman came through, ripping a 1-2 pitch to right for a walk-off double.
Following an exciting series-opener, the Indians and Stripers will do battle again at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. Alex McRae (0-3, 6.55 ERA) gets the nod for the Tribe.